Prologue; Moonlight Sonata
The walls were damp, as was the floor, as was everything within the dank confines of the prison cell. Ana pressed her back further against the cold stone in her chosen corner; her mind wandering far away from the Dementors prowling outside her cell or the other gradually maddening, decaying souls in the cells surrounding her.
She wondered how many people could be held in Azkaban. A thousand? It was probably more than that; more than a thousand and she had once been told by a particularly vile guardsman that there were ten Dementors to each prisoner. Whether the man's words were true or not she had found sleeping, since that terrible idea of thousands of Dementors had burrowed into her mind, difficult…all but impossible.
Ana was waiting; waiting for her visit. Once every day, without fail, the proud tap tapping of expensive shoes on worn stone sounded for ten seconds before the owner of the shoes came into view. He would then enter the cell, take a moment to ask her things, she would refuse to answer his questions, he would hurt her…the cycle would continue.
She pulled her legs up to her chest and began to hum. The familiar melody of Moonlight Sonata; appropriate as the moonlight itself chose to filter through her barred window at that moment, filled hear ears as her voice shakily brought it into being. It reminded her of lost times; of times she could almost forget ever existed in a place like Azkaban.
A sweeping coldness struck her as a Dementor swept past her cell door. One of the reasons she kept so far back in her cell was to avoid the effects of a Dementor's presence; coldness, hopelessness…she continued to hum to herself – pushing all thoughts of Dementors away.
Her mind instead retreated to home; not the home in which she was born but the home in which she had made her life; Grimmauld Place. She thought of the dreary décor and musty smells, the smoking fires and endless kitchen table around which they had shared so many conversations - the Order, her friends, her almost family…Sirius Black.
Her head rose slightly as the sound of those shoes; the expensive Italian leather made by the most advanced magical practises known to wizard-kind, and half smiled at the thought of them being ruined by the damp. She had, at one time, been afraid of the visit. However now she cared little. It was commonplace. It was expected.
The guard was sneering at her, with an almost lustful look in his eyes; the prison shifts were thin, she was twenty three, she was female; it did not surprise her. Her bare feet were curled one on top of the other; her legs crossing to defend some form of the dignity which was left to her. Not that she was any prize to look at now; her long black hair was tangled and filthy; pale skin was paler than ever before and streaked with grime, she knew there were bags underneath her darkly obsidian eyes from viewing her reflection once or twice in her water dish and she smelt worse than any farm animal; alive or dead.
"Miss Harte." greeted the visitor; ushered in with obvious distaste in his demeanour by the guardsman. They both wore the Dark Mark but it was the visitor; not the guardsman, who was a true Death Eater.
"Mr Malfoy; a pleasure as always – you look well."
Lucius Malfoy did look well; his cheeks gaunt in an attractive as opposed to starved fashion, his long blonde hair immaculately combed and cleaned, his fingernails spotless, his skin almost as white as hers – though a deal less grubby…though none of that was the thing which she was most interesting concerning Lucius Malfoy. She instead noted that he no longer sneered at her as he did at the guard and the guard did at her. A part of her wondered as to the reason; was she so low beneath his lofty self that she did not merit the effort it would take to loathe her? Or was it because he had realised by now that she did not care as to how he felt or thought? There were far better ways to cause her harm.
"I have come…" he began.
"Upon your usual task." her voice croaked as she spoke; other than humming she used her vocal chords very little and water was scarce. "You are over the slight cold you seemed to be developing yesterday I take it?"
"I am; thank you."
Their strange cordiality had appeared from nowhere three months, by her reckoning, after he had begun paying her visits. Back then it was sporadic, occasionally he would drop in from nowhere with no warning, and she would shout abuse until he tortured her unconscious. Yet eventually she had become tired. That was the crux of it all, she thought, she had just become so tired of being so angry all of the time. Better to accept her lot; accept it and keep thinking of the promise of freedom. Plus her hospitable nature seemed to unnerve him sometimes more than the foulest curse ever could do.
"Will you not ask after my health, Mr Malfoy?" she asked; a wry half smile on her face. It was odd; the pretence almost made her forget that she was about to feel things no human being should feel – no matter what their crime.
"Your health shall depend on our interview's success." he answered; his tone congenial.
"I fear I am not well at all then." was her response.
She was starting to feel it now; the nerves – the fear. His hand was touching the handle of his wand; fingers twitching slightly and betraying his otherwise cool demeanour, his eyes were narrowed as he looked down at her.
"You still refuse? Miss Harte you could be spared all this if you would…"
"No." she answered bluntly.
"Never." she added. She knew he had known all along that she would give him nothing. She had given him nothing for six long months now. What was one more night of pain compared to the knowledge that all she loved was kept secret and safe?
"Very well; if that is your choice..."
For a moment his icy blue eyes seemed a little less cold than usual. He did not feel pity; she knew that much for he was a Malfoy and Malfoys did not pity those they trampled upon whilst reaching upwards for the golden throne. However she thought she could almost detect just the slightest hint of reluctance there; so slight it was almost invisible…
Then she realised that the Dementors were truly robbing her of all if her final hopes were being placed in the hands of a Malfoy; Lucius Malfoy no less.
He pointed the wand at her; light filled her vision – the pain began.